SteamVR 2.0 is a big overhaul to Valve's VR platform, bringing most of the current features of Steam and the Steam Deck to SteamVR. From integrated Steam Chat and Voice Chat to an improved store layout, the overhaul will allow Valve to "add new Steam features in the future much faster and more frequently."
SteamVR 2.0 started in beta on September 25, 2023, so it's only been a month of testing before hitting its full release. The updated interface and full integration of Steam's robust chat system with dual-cursor typing, new languages, emojis, and themes are very welcome. Like the recently updated desktop client, it's a cleaner UI that retains that classic Steam look and feel.
Even though VR gaming has taken a back-seat for most in the PC space, with the recent release of the Meta Quest 3 (fully supported on PC and in Steam), the overall state of PC VR is in a good place. However, one has to wonder - with an overhaul to SteamVR like this, is Valve planning to launch a follow-up to its critically acclaimed Valve Index VR headset from 2019?
The current Valve Index features two 1440x1600 LCD IPS Fast Switching lenses with support for up to a 144 Hz refresh rate. Throw in the versatile Valve Index Controllers and accurate motion and hand tracking; it's still one of the go-to VR headsets for PC VR gaming.
Currently, the Meta Quest range is the most popular on Steam (according to the latest Steam Hardware Survey results) due to the affordable price point and ease of setup. A Valve Index follow-up would undoubtedly feature fewer cables, an improved display, and inside-out tracking. In fact, there have been rumors for a number of years now that Valve's follow-up would go full wireless.
On that note, the SteamVR 2.0 update isn't simply about improving the UI; there's more in-depth battery tracking and several backend elements related to fully wireless VR systems. The current expectation (or hope) is that rumors, leaks, and patents surrounding Valve's "Deckard" headset are pointing to an official Valve Index follow-up coming soon. Of course, with Valve, that could mean any time between now and when VR becomes like The Matrix, and we all plug cables directly into the back of our heads.
For the full blog post on the SteamVR 2.0 update, which includes release notes, head here.